“Make Europe One Again” by Gerald Rusello
“Stop Assisted-Suicide Opiod Abuse” by Wesley Smith
“Learning from Charlie Gard” by Charles Camosy
First Things is in my mind one of the great fruits of internet discourse. Even for its brilliance, it exposes humanity for what it is. We are a bunch a pious know it alls who know nothing.
One of my favorite verses is from today’s Bible reading,
Peter offering his take on the transfiguration is interrupted by the God of heaven: ”
“while he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
Lord, interrupt our “learned thoughts” with your presence. As St. John said, “Even so come Lord Jesus.”
Today’s reading: Matthew 17
Karen is amazing. I know her well. I’ve been married to her for over 30 years.
Resilience? Creative? Passionate? Absolutely. But above all, she is a great mother who worked full time and successfully homeschooled two children who both graduated college with honors.
Did I mention an amazing cook? For 32 years, she balanced her work and school schedule, with meals that would win the Food Channel’s CHOPPED.
Karen loves God. Yes, she seeks Him in the Mount Taber experiences but what makes her a saint is how she connects with God in the wilderness. The great thing about Karen is she hears God’s voice regardless of what denomination is speaking it.
Journey to Faith is a phrase God gave to Karen. It’s her statement of faith but more than that it’s her love letter to God. Karen is as the song says, “Raises people up to more than they can be.”
God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens. The late, great village atheist, made a living mocking Christianity. While I don’t have an ounce of an apologist in me, it is easy to see through the straw men Hitchens and others erect. Sadly, when I listen to Hitchens’ debates, I agree more with him than the Evangelical parrot.
Orthodoxy devised Apophatic theology. Its basic thrust is what God is not. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem says: “For we explain not what God is but candidly confess that we have not exact knowledge concerning Him. For in what concerns God to confess our ignorance is the best knowledge.” American Christians assume they understand God. Hitchens and other new atheists make a very good living on attacking those assumptions.
In my first grade understanding of theology, I developed my top ten negative verses about God.
Numbers 23:19– God is not a man, that he should lie, nor is the son of man, that he should be changed. Hath he said then, and will he not do? hath he spoken, and will he not fulfil?
- Deuteronomy 32:31– For our God is not as their gods: our enemies themselves are judges.
- Acts 10:34– And Peter opening his mouth, said: in very deed I perceive that God is not a respecter of persons.
- Romans 14:17– For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink: but justice and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
- 1 Corinthians 4:20– For the kingdom of God is not in speech, but in power.
- 1 Corinthians 14:33– For God is not the God of dissension, but of peace: as also I teach in all the churches of the saints.
- Galatians 6:7– Be not deceived: God is not mocked.
- 2 Timothy 2:9– Wherein I labor even unto bands, as an evildoer. But the word of God is not bound.
- Hebrews 6:10– For God is not unjust, that he should forget your work and the love which you have shewn in his name, you who have ministered and do minister to the saints.
- James 1:13– Let no man, when he is tempted, say that he is tempted by God. For God is not a tempter of evils: and he tempteth no man.
Augustine wrote: “We are talking about God. What wonder is it that you do not understand? If you do understand, then it is not God.”
The Church’s catechism explains the Trinity this way:
The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the “consubstantial Trinity”.83 The divine persons do not share the one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire: ” “God is one but not solitary.”86 “Father”, “Son”, “Holy Spirit” are not simply names designating modalities of the divine being, for they are really distinct from one another: “He is not the Father who is the Son, nor is the Son he who is the Father, nor is the Holy Spirit he who is the Father or the Son.”87 Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another.
I like Martin Sheen’s experience when talking to a village priest, (https://onbeing.org/ Krista Tippet). “We really don’t understand what God is?
Jesus uses the word picture of looking for something valuable to show how we must look for the kingdom of heaven. There is an intensity in the search. We should become laser focused.
This could be compared to Moses when he comes down from the mountain after receiving the commandments a second time. Moses’ face was so radiant that people were afraid to even come near him. The disciples encountered this radiance when they were with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Moses didn’t keep all of this glory to himself, he shared what God had said with the people. After this time, Moses puts a veil over his face so that the people would not be afraid of him and this radiance continued every time Moses had a conversation with the Lord.
When we have an encounter with the Lord, we are changed. People should notice a difference in us and we should tell them what we have found because it is like a great treasure and not a secret to be kept.
Scripture has been provided as a book of Remembrance. We read our Bibles to see God’s creation, to see God’s deliverance of the children of Israel, the rise and fall of the kings of Israel, the prophets, Daniel in the lion’s den, the fiery furnace, the coming of the Messiah our Savior and his death and resurrection that paid the price for our sin.
God speaks to us often about remembering where we have come from, remembering God’s goodness to us, and remembering God’s work in our lives.
God gives a list of events that the children of Israel must remember:
1. Passover–where God delivered them from Egyptian slavery. They were to remember this for 7 days.
2. Harvest-where they were to bring the first fruits of their harvest.
3. Day of Atonement-where they were to bring sacrifices for their sins to be offered to God for their forgiveness.
4. Festival of Booths-where they were to bring sacrifices and to do no work for 7 days.
These were visual reminders of what God had done for them, but the people were to do their part in bringing offerings, not working and turning their hearts back to God.
Moses knew the Lord was kind and merciful. He would go to the Meeting Tent and we are told that when Moses went there, the column of Cloud would come down at the entrance of the tent and “the Lord would speak to Moses’ face to face as one man speaks to another.” Moses would entreat the Lord to pardon the sins of the people and show his kindness and mercy.
Today, we can be like Moses and encounter the Lord at our personal tent of meeting. We can confess our sins and seek His forgiveness and we have a personal advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who pleads our case for the Father to show us his kindness and mercy.
“I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.” Jesus (Matthew 13:31-35)
If you have not noticed, God prefers the small and insignificant. Instead of Rome, He chooses Bethlehem. Instead of the learned Pharisees, He chooses a group of unschooled anglers. The Apostle Paul defines mustard seed Christianity this way: “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,”
Faith the size of a mustard seed refers to the smallness of the Christian. After a lifetime “taking up your cross,” the Christian become the size of a mustard seed. After practicing, “I must decrease so that He might increase,” he/she consistently prays with no thought of him/herself only thinking of God’s will. God is the God of the poor, the simple, and those whose hope is in God alone.
You do not “MUSTER” up this kind of faith. You become this kind of faith. People find mustard seed faith when they submit to the sovereignty of God. When Habakkuk witnessed Judah’s sin and future ruler, God is advised: “The just shall live by faith.”
Mustard Seed Faith is creative like Genesis. You are moving in concert with God. The reason we fear is that we are out of sync with the plan of God. Habakkuk refers to this as sin. Because of our crazy view of faith and forgiveness, we dismiss sin and mustard seed faith evaporates. God hates greed even if it is a part of our capitalistic culture (Hab. 2:6-8). God is opposed to our ruthless/heartless abortions (vv. 9-11). God is always opposed to being drunk or high (cf. 15-17). When enough people in society begin to live like mustard seed Christians, then the Church will be big enough to support society (cf. “birds perching on its branches.”)